Your heart’s job is to pump blood through the body. When the heart can’t pump blood effectively, cells begin to die and organs (such as the brain, lungs, and liver) may become damaged or even shut down.

Heart disease is one of the common reasons that people apply for Social Security disability benefits (SSDI). The most common heart conditions are:


  1. Arteriosclerosis Arteriosclerosis is a term used to describe the thickening and hardening of the walls of the arteries. The term refers to several conditions, including atherosclerosis, that occur when fats and cholesterol accumulate on the artery walls. The buildup of plaque causes the arteries to narrow. Arteriosclerosis can be treated, but it is not usually diagnosed until the arteries become too narrow to supply enough blood the heart or the brain. Symptoms include chest pain, numbness or weakness in the legs or arms, difficulty speaking, drooping face muscles, leg pain, high blood pressure, kidney failure, and erectile dysfunction. Arteriosclerosis can cause heart attack, and stroke. It is the underlying cause of many other heart conditions.


  1. Coronary Artery Disease When arteriosclerosis restricts blood to the heart, the heart is then deprived of oxygen. The heart will slow down or even stop. Symptoms of coronary artery disease may include angina (chest pain), fatigue, weakness, and shortness of breath.


  1. Congestive Heart Failure If the heart slows down too much to provide the body with adequate oxygen, the organs will begin to fail. Congestive heart failure (CHF) occurs when damage from the lack of oxygen affects the kidneys’ ability to remove excess salt and water from the body. These fluids build up in the tissues, especially in the lungs and in the heart. Symptoms of CHF include fatigue, water retention, shortness of breath, sleep interruptions, nausea, abdominal pain, and increased urination. CHF affects 20 percent of Americans over the age of 40.


  1. Aneurysm An aneurysm occurs when there is damage or weakness in the blood vessel walls. Blood collects in the area and causes a bulge called an aneurism. If the bulge ruptures, it may cause fatal bleeding. The symptoms depend on where the aneurysm is located. Patients with an aneurysm must be careful and avoid over exertion that could cause a rupture.


Having a heart condition does not automatically qualify an applicant for Social Security disability benefits (SSDI). One must either meet the criteria outlined in section 4.00 of the Social Security Administration’s listing of impairments or be unable to perform their past work and perhaps all other work in the economy.

Many people who qualify for SSDI for heart disease are denied the first time they apply. This is not because they don’t qualify, but because they have not provided all the documentation needed to support a disability claim.

Our Nebraska disability lawyers can help. To learn more, request a free copy of our brochure, Why You Should Hire an Attorney to Handle Your Social Security Disability Claim, or contact Cuddigan Law at 402-933-5405 and ask to schedule a free evaluation with an experienced Omaha SSDI attorney.

Timothy J. Cuddigan
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Omaha Social Security and Veterans Disability Lawyer With Over 40 Years Experience